By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Clash of Champions Hits
Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship: The best match of the night. Both wrestlers worked an intense style that fit the tone of their feud. I was surprised to see Lynch dominate Banks at the end, but I don’t think any major damage was done to Banks. After all, she won the match by DQ and they can heat her up again with a strong segment on Raw. It will be interesting to see if Sasha beats Lynch for the championship before the draft. After all, Lynch is prominently featured in all of the Smackdown advertising on Fox, so I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t move to the Friday night show.
Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE Universal Championship: The finish of the match impressed me in that it Rollins went over clean, yet Strowman was protected by the storyline knee injury. The post match angle was strong with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt attacking Rollins on the stage. It will be interesting to see how fans react to both wrestlers during their feud. Wyatt feels like the hottest act in the company and he’s getting cheered by the masses.
Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan in a No DQ match: A good brawl that exceeded my expectations. The Rowan near falls felt flat because I don’t think anyone believed he would beat Reigns clean. The surprise return of Luke Harper was well done and paved the way for Rowan getting the cheap win. It will be interesting to see what Rowan and Harper reuniting means. Are they reforming as a tag team? Are they aligned with Daniel Bryan? Are they aligned with Bray Wyatt? It would be a lot of fun if the plan is for a revamped Wyatt Family led by The Fiend. Either way, it’s good to see Harper return from his stay in WWE purgatory.
Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship: A minor Hit for a decent and yet forgettable match. I was surprised to see Orton lose clean, as I assume they are working toward a Hell in a Cell match to end the feud and would want to go into that match with the wrestlers feeling somewhat equal. That said, Orton is always a big heat angle away from feeling like a threat to Kingston’s title again.
The Revival vs. Big E and Xavier Woods for the Smackdown Tag Titles: Will they play up the idea that Raw wrestlers won the Smackdown Tag Titles or will they conveniently ignore that since we have another draft right around the corner? It was encouraging to see The Revival go over strong while exploiting Woods’s knee injury. Hopefully the creative forces will finally get it right by showcasing The Revival as a strong team that isn’t afraid to cheat if they must rather than a weak team that must cheat to win.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The most pleasantly surprising match of the night. This was a quality tag match from bell to bell. Bliss and Cross have an odd charm that’s been a bit lost because of the back and forth game that’s played with their opponents dictating whether they work as babyfaces or heels. Their alliance was one of the better storylines early on, but it’s slipped since they captured the tag titles. Meanwhile, Rose and Deville have become a good tag team and hopefully they will continue to be in the championship mix despite losing this match.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship: A solid outing from a feud that had zero juice coming into the show. Sami Zayn is a lot of fun as Nakamura’s manager, but hopefully they give up on the Lio Rush gimmick of having him talk during Nakamura’s matches. The Miz continues to feel cold as a babyface and I’m not sure what the company can do to change that. He’s a likable guy on his reality television show, but my interest in his regular WWE television persona is slipping.
Drew Gulak vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Lince Dorado for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Another good Kickoff Show championship match from the cruiserweight division. The finish was fairly formula with Gulak stealing a pin, but I like that it protected Carrillo to save him for an eventual singles match with Gulak.
WWE Clash of Champions Misses
Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman vs. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Titles: A well worked match that felt creatively uninspired. Nothing happened between Rollins and Strowman to heat up their match for later in the show. Instead, it felt like the live crowd got their fill of both men given their flat reaction to Rollins and Strowman when they made their main event entrances. In retrospect, it seems like the company felt that Rollins and Strowman teaming together and facing one another was a major hook for the show. I can only speak for myself, but it felt like much ado about nothing. On the plus side, Roode and Ziggler should be a quality team and I assume they will end up feuding with The Usos coming out of this show.
Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A brief match that was actually highlighted by Bayley grabbing her title belt and running full speed to the stage. It will be interesting to see where both women end up in the draft given that Becky Lynch is all over the Fox advertising.
AJ Styles vs. Cedric Alexander for the U.S. Championship: A dominant win for Styles in Alexander’s home area. There is a way to make this feel like a fork in the road for Alexander, but he looked really bad in the moment with Styles pulling him up from a pin at one point in the match and then beating him cleanly just a short time later.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...